FACTBOX-New Zealand PM joins five 'power mums' in advances for women's rights

by Beh Lih Yi | @BehLihYi | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 19 January 2018 09:07 GMT

New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern waves to student dancers (not pictured) upon her arrival to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and related meetings in Clark, Pampanga, northern Philippines November 12, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Image Caption and Rights Information
"I'm not the first woman to work and have a baby"

By Beh Lih Yi

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern received a flood of congratulatory messages on Friday after she announced she was pregnant with her first child, with campaigners lauding the support as a sign of women's rights progress.

The popular and charismatic politician, New Zealand's third female leader, who took office last year after a closely fought election, said she planned to work until the end of her pregnancy in June and then take six-weeks leave.

"I'm not the first woman to work and have a baby. I know these are special circumstances but there are many women who have done it well before I have," Ardern told reporters.

New Zealand has long held a progressive reputation, having been the first country to given women the right to vote in 1893.

Ardern is one of the very few examples of an elected leader holding office while pregnant. Advocacy groups say her announcement could help break stigma on the issues of women juggling a career and family.

Here are five other powerful women who were pregnant while holding public office or leading a corporate giant:

1) Benazir Bhutto

Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto had her second child, a girl, while she was prime minister in 1990. She is thought to be the first modern head of government to give birth while in office. Bhutto, who became the opposition leader later, was killed in a gun and bomb attack in 2007.

2) Carme Chacon

Spain's first female defense minister was cast into the media spotlight when she took office in 2008, seven months into her pregnancy. Chacon was famously photographed on a trip to Afghanistan reviewing troops - when she was visibly pregnant - shortly after she took office. She held the post until 2011, and died in April 2017 at the age of 46.

3) Queen Elizabeth II

Britain's Queen Elizabeth gave birth to two of her four children after she became a monarch in 1952. Her third child, Prince Andrew, was born in 1960, and the fourth, Prince Edward, in 1964. Prince Andrew and Prince Edward were the first children to be born to a reigning monarch since Queen Victoria had her family, according to the British Royal Family official website.

4) Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer announced she was pregnant with twin girls when she was Yahoo chief executive in September 2015. She took two weeks' maternity leave to give birth later in the same year, as she worked toward turning around the struggling company. She stepped down from the position in June last year.

5) Susan Wojcicki

One of the tech world's most influential women, the chief executive of the streaming video service YouTube announced she was pregnant with her fifth baby a few months after she took on the job in 2014. Wojcicki has often championed the cause of gender diversity in the tech industry, including writing articles that argued for the importance of paid maternity leave for businesses.

Source: Reuters, British Royal Household official website, Wall Street Journal

(Reporting by Beh Lih Yi @behlihyi, Editing by Jared Ferrie; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.